COVID-19 Grocery Shopping Safety

Going out for food and other essentials can cause anxiety as we try to keep up with the latest safety guidelines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear cloth face masks in public spaces to help protect others, even if you aren’t showing symptoms. But gloves are not recommended for the general public.

Jaimie Meyer, MD, MS, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale Medicine, said you can actually infect yourself by putting on or by taking off gloves incorrectly. Instead of relying on gloves, wipe down the grocery cart handle, use your sleeve to open freezer doors and avoid high-touch areas. If you have to use the key pad, bring your own pen, wipe it down and wash your hands after use.

“I worry very much when we talk about gloves and masks that it will give people a false sense of security- they will think that they can put on gloves and masks like a magic cape and then not practice social distancing,” Dr. Meyer said. “The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to stay home and not go to the grocery store at all. If you do have to go, try to go during times that are less crowded so you can continue to distance yourself from others.”

How long can COVID-19 remain on packaging, clothing and other surfaces?

There’s no evidence that anyone has gotten infected with COVID-19 from touching food or food packaging. So practice safe food handling, but never spray or wipe down produce with cleaners, which can get you sick.

Once you get home from the grocery store, there’s no need to change your clothes right away. If you’re simply returning from the store, put away your groceries, wipe down your countertops and then wash your hands thoroughly. Dr. Meyer offers the same advice for packages delivered directly to your home.

While preliminary studies showed COVID-19 can live for days on common household surfaces, Dr. Meyer said there is minimal evidence that touching those surfaces can make you sick, especially if you avoid touching your face and if you wash your hands.

“There’s a lot of ways that we can really drive ourselves crazy here. Still the smartest things are keeping your distance, washing your hands, don’t touch your face, and wipe down high-touch surfaces. Those are still the best ways to not get COVID-19,” Dr. Meyer said.

To stay up to date on the latest safety guidelines, check in with the CDC.